Portland, ME – When it comes to winning streaks, the Portland Pirates can master three-game winning streaks, but is having a tough time finding their fourth win.
Corey Locke tallied four points on the night with a pair of goals and assists as the Binghamton Senators went on for the 5-2 win in front of 4,140 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
This was the third time since early November the Pirates have gone on for a three-game winning streak only see the fourth game end with disastrous consequences.
“We played some pretty good hockey,” said Pirates coach Kevin Dineen. “That’s still a tendency in our game that we can play three in a row and all of a sudden we start feeling pretty good about ourselves. The guys that were good for us the last couple of games felt they could play a more offensive skill role and we lost our identity tonight.”
The Pirates also lost an opportunity to gain ground over the Manchester Monarchs, who are currently sitting in first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
“I don’t think (our) compete level was very high,” said Dineen.”
Binghamton jumped out to a 2-0 lead starting with a goal from Mike Hoffman just 1:44 into the first period.
AHL leading point scorer Bobby Butler rushed the net from the right side, taking a wide shots off Pirates goalkeeper Jhonas Enroth’s left leg pad, leaving a gaping rebound for a chip shot by Hoffman as he followed the play from the slot.
At 11:01, Ryan Keller doubled the lead for Binghamton when Locke sent a pass from the right half boards to Keller in the slot, snapping a shot past Enroth.
The Pirates controlled much of the first period outshooting the Senators 10-2 at point, but the scoreboard read 2-0 until Portland found a break in Senators netminder Robin Lehner at the 16:02 mark of the first period.
Mark Mancari chopping at a rebound from the bottom of the right circle beat a stretched out Robin Lehner to cut into Binghamton’s lead, 2-1.
With only 29.3 left in the period, Maxime Legault fired a cross-ice pass from the corner to the front of the net, where Brian Roloff redirected it past Lehner for his first professional AHL goal, nodding the game at 2-2.
“(Portland) is a really good home team,” said Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst. “I thought their first period was awfully strong. We were fortunate to get that two-goal cushion, but we let them bounce back. They’re a first period team. They come out with a lot of energy and try to put you away in the first 20 minutes.”
It only took Binghamton 19 seconds into the start of the second period to regain the lead on a goal Enroth surely wishes he had back.
A misplay behind the net by Enroth allowed Corey Locke to score the first of his two on the night, stealing the puck and banking it off the netminder into the net.
“We let the pace of play go on and when we play that way,” said Dineen, “it’s a 50-50 chance of winning or losing. When (our) goaltending is not good (tonight), it makes a difference in the hockey game.”
At 14:20 of the third period, Andre Benoit finished off a tic-tac-toe play with a wrister over stick of Enroth, restoring Binghamton’s two-goal lead at 4-2.
With a minute left, Locke scored his second when he awarded the goal after being hooked by Alex Biega what would have been a penalty shot, if the goaltender had not been pulled.
For his efforts after the game, Locke was recalled by Binghamton’s parent club, the Ottawa Senators, who were in Boston tonight.
Enroth made 24 saves in the loss, while Lehner made 25 saves on 27 shots and was also rewarded with a recall to the parent club.
NOTES: Mark Mancari tied Martin Gendron for sixth all-time with the Pirates in goal-scoring with 74 goals. Mark Parrish, who skated today in a full practice with the Pirates, is closer to returning, but Dineen cautioned that he’s still at least a week away…. Pirates’ defenseman Drew Schiestel and forward Luke Adam were named to the Eastern All-Star team for the upcoming All-Star Classic in Hershey, PA. Schiestel is currently in his second year with the Pirates and has posted 18 points (4G, 14A) with a plus-10 rating in 36 games.
Adam, who is currently with the Buffalo Sabres, has appeared in 20 games with the Pirates (12G, 10A) and led nearly every rookie category until his recall last month. In 16 games with the Sabres, he has three goals and an assist…. Former Pirates forward Tyler Ennis was named to the NHL All-Star game as part of the 36 All-Stars and 12 Rookies to be named to the roster that will be determined at the end of the month.